This agreement, in its published text, does not reveal a perfect balance. The compensation to France does not appear necessary as a counterpart to the colonial adjustments given to Italy which represent only a belated and limited execution of the commitment undertaken by France towards Italy with article 13 of the London pact. But behind the Rome agreement of 7 January there is also the agreement, not manifested in a public act, of the freedom of action recognized to Italy on the Ethiopian territory.
The problem of this freedom of action had suddenly opened up in December 1934 after a new incident on the Somali border caused by the continued aggressive movements of the Ethiopian armed forces. On 5 December, a formation of about 1500 Ethiopian regular soldiers, under the command of the fitaurari Scifferà, suddenly attacked a small Italian garrison in Ual-Ual. The unprovoked attack, obviously of an offensive nature, was rejected due to the prompt intervention of other troops and Italian air forces. Meanwhile, the singular fact of the presence, near the place of the clash, of a British military mission under the command of Colonel Clifford, to which most of the Abyssinian armed men participating in the Ual-Ual attack had been aggregated for protection. L’
According to travelationary.com, the state of relations between Italy and the Ethiopian Empire had become intolerable. Ethiopian movements of aggression against the Italian colonies had already been attempted previously, while Italy was engaged in the Libyan campaign and then in the world war. In March-April 1914 the negus Uolde Ghiorghis, governor of Gondar, with a body of troops of over 50,000 men, had advanced in Tigrè up to the Eritrean border causing for the defense the sending of metropolitan troops to Eritrea and the return from Libya of Eritrean battalions. In February 1915 the negus Michael had been caught preparing an attack plan against Eritrea with the gathering of a corps of about 150,000 men, forcing Italy to mobilize its colonial forces in defense of the Eritrea and Somalia and to refrain from colonial operations carried out by the Allies in Africa and Asia. In 1925-26, during the police operations in northern Italian Somalia, the Ethiopian government had welcomed the rebel columns on its territory, supplying them with weapons and ammunition.
But beyond these offensive movements of evident significance, the Italian government had had to ascertain and denounce 25 offenses on the Ethiopian side against its diplomatic and consular representations, between 1916 and 15 August 1935, 15 acts against Italian life, property and interests, between November 1924 and August 1935, and 51 raids, attacks and border incidents, often very bloody, sometimes caused by large armed Ethiopian expeditions, between February 1923 and May 31, 1935.
Consequently, having ascertained the complete failure of a policy of peace and collaboration repeatedly attempted by the Italian government with the Ethiopian government, a resolute and substantial clarification was required, for the guarantee of life and interests and the free development of the economic initiatives of the Italians on the Ethiopian territory., according to the rights established by the treaties repeatedly concluded between the governments of Rome and Addis Ababa and already recognized in the international conventions concluded by Italy with Great Britain and France.
This problem of the clarification of Italian-Ethiopian relations is part of the more general problem of Italian rights to the colonies.
With its population, which grew at the beginning of 1935 to over 42 million residents, Italy came out of the war empty-handed in the division of colonial territories. Against 2,620,000 square kilometers of new colonial territories, with a population of 9,335,000 residents, gained by Great Britain in Africa, Oceania and Asia, and 922,000 square kilometers, with a population of 4,335,000 residents, gained from France in Africa and Asia, the new purchase of Italy is in fact reduced to 90 square kilometers with a population of just 100,000 residents.
Moreover, the transfer made by England to Italy of the British territory of Oltregiuba, depopulated and sterile, sanctioned by the Treaty of London of 15 July 1924, on the basis of the letters exchanged between Milner and Tittoni on 13, cannot be defined as real colonial compensation. September 1919, nor the border adjustments between Libya and Egypt, defined with the Cairo agreement of 6 December 1925, with which Egypt ceded the Giarabub Oasis, already almost abandoned, to Italy, but obtained in exchange the Bay of es-Sollūm and the area of Ramla. Even less can the subsequent French transfers of 1935 be considered useful colonial compensations, which also concern sterile and depopulated territories.
The growing density of the Italian population, the natural elevation of its tone of life, the need for free economic development could no longer be contained on the national territory and on the few Italian colonial possessions of North and East Africa. The periodic crises of Italian agriculture and industry, at the end of the century. XIX and the beginning of the century. XX, had one of their essential causes in the insufficient economic base of Italy. And for this in the last quarter of the century. XIX and until the eve of the world war a grandiose and desolate movement of emigration developed from Italy that soon crossed the borders of Europe and the Mediterranean and headed towards the Americas, resulting for a large part in a definitive loss of the human capital and the means of wealth of Italy and therefore in a new reason for Italy’s poverty, in the apparent liberation of its demographic weight, in contrast with the rapid enrichment of many territories foreigners produced with the toil of the Italian colonists. In sixty years of emigration, from 1876 to 1935, Italy has seen 18,148,355 emigrants leave, only minimally compensated by repatriation and for a large part lost economically and also nationally due to the naturalization, carried out, as well as in Americas, in Europe, especially in France, where, according to the 1931 census, 100,642 Italians out of the 808,038 residing were already naturalized as French citizens.